Transgender men and transmasculine people in the United States have a higher rate of HIV than the general population, but this appears to be largely driven by those who have sex with cisgender men.

Research on HIV among transgender people has historically been scarce. Studies of transgender women have increased in recent years, showing that they have a high rate of HIV. But data on trans men remain limited.

Asa Radix, MD, PhD, of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, and colleagues assessed HIV prevalence among transgender men and transmasculine people who received care between January 2009 and December 2010 at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in New York City, a clinic specializing in care for the LGBTQ community. The analysis included 577 people who were assigned female at birth and currently identify as transgender men, transsexual men, FTM/female-to-male, gender nonconforming or genderqueer.

HIV screening was suboptimal, with just 43% having ever been tested. Of the 250 people screened, seven tested positive, for an overall HIV prevalence of 2.8%. But the prevalence was about twice as high for trans men who had sex with cisgender men compared with those who had sex with cisgender women (3.5% versus 1.8%, respectively).

“These findings have important implications for clinicians, researchers and policymakers, since transgender men are often not included in HIV prevention research and are not prioritized for HIV prevention intervention efforts,” the study authors wrote.